Does oolong tea (Camellia sinensis) made from a combination of leaf and stem smell more aromatic than leaf-only tea? Contribution of the stem to oolong tea aroma

Food Chem. 2017 Dec 15:237:488-498. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.05.137. Epub 2017 May 29.


The raw materials used to make oolong tea (Camellia sinensis) are a combination of leaf and stem. Oolong tea made from leaf and stem is thought to have a more aromatic smell than leaf-only tea. However, there is no available evidence to support the viewpoint. In this study, sensory evaluation and detailed characterization of emitted and internal volatiles (not readily emitted, but stored in samples) of dry oolong teas and infusions indicated that the presence of stem did not significantly improve the total aroma characteristics. During the enzyme-active processes, volatile monoterpenes and theanine were accumulated more abundantly in stem than in leaf, while jasmine lactone, indole, and trans-nerolidol were lower in stem than in leaf. Tissue-specific aroma-related gene expression and availability of precursors of aroma compounds resulted in different aroma distributions in leaf and stem. This study presents the first determination of the contribution of stem to oolong tea aroma.

Keywords: Amino acid; Aroma; Camellia sinensis; Stem; Tea; Volatile.

MeSH terms

  • Camellia sinensis*
  • Humans
  • Plant Leaves
  • Smell
  • Tea*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds


  • Tea
  • Volatile Organic Compounds